This time of isolation has been hard for many of us, especially those of us who live alone. It is hard to face only oneself, day in and day out, and we're tired. Those walks around the block help, but now more and more people are flooding the out-of-doors, and it's becoming more risky to be out. Phone calls, emails, and social media help, but one wearies of all the screen time too. Some days feel like we're making our way through a social desert.
This past Sunday, after working with texts from John 10 and Acts 2, I was reminded of the ways Jesus taught us to grow in our faith, ways that the early church used and also grew! I came to realize that "covid time" is not a wilderness to struggle through, but it can be wilderness time. Wilderness time is a time to regroup, pray, listen, be quiet, study, and allow God to nourish us and help us grow spiritually.
So "covid time" can be Retreat time. It can be a time spent with God, listening for God's voice in scripture and in prayer, breaking bread together, whether virtually with family or friends, or by sharing a porch drop-off meal with a neighbor. In these ways, we acknowledge God's presence with us in all things, and proclaim God's goodness. It's an opportunity to invite others "in" to share our wilderness journey, and to grow together in God's goodness and in faith.
I'm amazed at the resilience of folks, no matter our ages or experience. Many of us have figured out how to do things we never thought we would, and never really wanted to either! We've figured out how to "Zoom" and how to take communion together in our homes and how to live-stream worship and how to run a no-touch, drive-thru food pantry! We've figured out how to do porch drop-offs and pick-ups, store pick-ups, and so much more! I've been overwhelmed by the amount of information folks are sharing about how to do one thing or figure out when we can do another. No one ever expected we'd find oureselves in such a time as this, but we have a God who has equipped us to help and to love one another, and so we do!
These past couple of months have been a strange time, trying to figure out what social distancing is, where we get masks to wear to the store, what worship looks like when we go online, when we ask those who aren't online to call in for worship...and what about those who don't do any of the above? How do we feed the hungry when we aren't supposed to touch or enter personal space with one another?
I like to intentionally overlook the piles of shoes or coats, the dust that accumulates on every horizontal surface. Paying attention to that means I have to get up and do something.
But seriously, I have a bunch of Bethlehem Star flowers and tiny little blue flowers that spring up in the yard. It would be easy to overlook them, but when I stop long enough to focus on smaller things instead of the big picture, I enjoy the beauty that dots the grass that is greening up this time of year. God's creation is magnificent when we stop long enough to see and appreciate it.
It's easy to turn my head as I go by the corners where the people hold up their signs, but I wonder who they are. Are they really homeless or hungry as their signs proclaim? What if I rolled down my window and asked their stories? I'm sure they're not so different than the flowers that dot the yard, beautiful and magnificent creatures, children of our God. Why do I tend to overlook them? I'm in a hurry. I'm busy. I have places to go and people (more like me) to see. I might actually have to get up and do something if I pay attention to them.
Change my heart, O God. On this last day of Lent, as we contemplate the "get up and do" that you endured for us, what's a small amount of time taken, a few dollars spent, to spread your love to others and to enjoy all that you have made and given to us to care for. Remind me of that responsibility daily, and give me courage to slow down and confront the realities I face daily. Change my heart, O God. Make me (more) like you!
We often neglect to let people know how much they mean to us, and especially those whose small acts of kindness make a big difference in our work, or in our lives. Surprise that person (those people) with a note to let them know you noticed and are grateful for the difference they've made.
Christ's mandate, "I give you a new commandment, that you love one another."
How appropriate that this would be the practice that comes up today! So, we must seek out neighbors in need and serve them as a servant would his/her master. That's how Jesus served us, stooping down, kneeling before us, helping, guiding, praying, feeding, healing. Help where we're needed, give as we're gifted or blessed.
Change my heart, O God. Make me more like your Son, Jesus Christ. Give me courage to face my fears and willingness to stoop to serve others, today and every day. Change my heart, O God. May I be (more) like you.
Well, it's about time, isn't it? :-D
It's Holy Wednesday and I've been praying all through Lent for God to change my heart. Maybe I'm just not asking properly...or maybe I need to be more open to having my heart changed. Perhaps what I need to ask for is a softer, more pliable heart, that God might be more *able* to change it, to work in me. :-/
Soften my heart, O God. Open my mind, O Lord. Make me an instrument of your will. Loosen the fists of my heart and my will, that I would be an open receptacle of your grace, your wisdom, your moving and being. Live in me, O God. Make your home in my heart, that I might live and move and have my being in you. Make me more grace filled, more willing to serve, wiser in my leading and faithful in my following.
Change my heart, O God. Change my heart, I pray. Make me more like you each day. Work in me and through me that others might see you in me. With all my heart I pray. May it be so. Amen.
Ya know, I'm not sure I always *want* to learn each day, especially what it is that God wants me to learn, because it could mean that I'd have to change course, do something I just really don't have any interest in. <sigh>
God is that "forest and tree" kind of God, and I'm just a "tree" kind of person, and so often, that tree is me. :-/ I admit freely that I do need to learn from God...each day. And I freely admit that I'm all about me and my comfort level most days.
But that's not always (not usually) what God needs us to be about. What I need to learn from God may be how to finally stand up, take a step, go over there, do that thing.
To be a follower of Christ means that we will walk that road with him, and it's sometimes dirty, or embarrassing, or difficult, or uncomfortable, and it may lead to something we never intended. Peter even denied he knew Christ when he learned from God that week. Maybe it's just me, but I have a feeling that I frequently deny the God who created me, who needs me, who calls me to go and to serve. How many times have we said, "um, nah. That's not me. That's not my thing. That's too hard."?
But God continues to show us and teach us, if only we will look, listen, and be willing to learn. The end of that road is a new and glorious beginning. Why wouldn't we want to learn how to get there?
Teach me, O God. Show me what I need to learn. Send me and use me...Help me to be willing to learn, to go, to serve...as you need me. Give me courage to do your thing, and not worry so much about mine. Change my heart, O God. May I be (more) like you.
Reduce Reuse Recycle - it's not only a good motto, but good wisdom for the sustainability of this spaceship we're on.
It's easy to get lazy and just pitch it and not rinse and recycle. It's easy to use products that are cheap because they're made from non-recyclable materials (styrofoam!) or from non-recycled materials (styrofoam!). It's easy just to pitch that cup and get another when we need it, but taking the easy way is poisoning our spaceship and eventually, we will use it up. Compost, pay a few extra bucks for organic, buy products that are in recyclable packaging, look for companies that use sustainability practices, and become a sustainability advocate yourself. Put out that recycling bin each week. Challenge yourself to get that bin filled before the trash bin. Pick up trash as you see it. It not only looks better, but it's better for our earth. And find yard care companies that use organic products. Yes, you'll pay more for the service, but all that run-off is poisoning our water. Go electric. You get the idea...
Take time to make a difference. God made this planet so that we could live. Let's not kill it and in turn kill ourselves and those who come after us. And let's show a little love and respect for the God who made it all!
Thank you for this good earth, Creator God. Especially as Spring is blossoming, I marvel at the cycle of life and the incredible way you've made us and our environment.
Change my heart and my actions, O God. Remind me each day to care for your creation by using wise purchasing practices and taking helpful actions to sustain life on this planet, Creator God. Help me to be an advocate for this magnificent creation and all its beautiful creatures. May we all be more like you in caring for the things and the people you've made.
How often have we put off important things until they're too late?
Today marks the beginning of Jesus' final week in Jerusalem. He tended his relationships to be sure all was in place, all was right. Let us also tend to our relationships and be sure all is right.
We think we always have time, another day, to tend to those things. But those things are at the very heart of our lives together, our communion with God and God's people.
Call someone you haven't talked to in awhile. Visit someone you haven't seen. Nurture your friendships and be with your family as you are able. Make time today. Don't put it off. For we never know who needs to be loved or when one's last breath might be.
Life is all too short and is made richer, better by being together. Blessings on this Palm Sunday as we begin our Holy Week journey. And may God change our hearts today.
I'm a wife, mom, pastor, human...probably not in that order. I struggle each day to be faithful to God, to my family and to my call as a Christian and all of those previously-mentioned roles. I pray to be positive, kind and thoughtful, but tend to fall short on all counts. I am inspired by sunrises and enjoy taking pictures (mostly my kids, deer in the yard and sunrises). I waste time playing stupid computer games and wishing I'd been better at all of the aforementioned roles. ;-)